At socialite Allison Sarofim‘s annual Halloween party last Saturday, Oct. 25, the theme was Japanese anime. Female dancers in purple wigs and revealing electro-violet garments swayed to the music on pedestals. A young woman wearing skimpy lingerie and a giant head of a Japanese comic-book character with fake hair reaching down to her rear was placed atop the mantelpiece and instructed to stay put. Another woman in a metallic unitard and extraterrestrial headgear walked around with a mini-buffet of Japanese candy. And the male waiters, passing out just-made sushi and cocktails, were topless.
Ms. Sarofim, who relocated to New York seven years ago from Houston, is the daughter of Egyptian-born financier Fayez Sarofim, known on Wall Street as “the Sphinx.” Having worked as a restaurateur, an actress and a writer, Ms. Sarofim is probably best known for the parties she orchestrates each year the weekend before Halloween at her West Village townhouse.
Ascending the stairs about an hour into her party–a professional makeup artist was on the clock upstairs–Ms. Sarofim was dressed in a skintight gray catsuit that stretched from her ankles to her neck. There was body armor around the shoulders and chest, green streaks in her hair and an elaborate laser gun in her left hand.
“I am DNA, a Japanese comic-book hero!” Ms. Sarofim told the Transom. “I was recently in Russia and met [Takashi] Murakami at an art opening that Larry Gagosian threw, and I also lived in Japan at one point and fell in love with Japanese pop culture. So I guess the combination of those two things really inspired the theme tonight.” (A Ronald McDonald character passed out Happy Meals to guests, which Ms. Sarofim explained she consumed a lot of while residing in Japan.)
Marie Claire fashion director and Project Runway judge Nina Garcia was fluttering about as a naughty Japanese schoolgirl, with tall (yet tasteful) hooker boots, a pleated gray minidress and heavy eye makeup.
“Oh, this was just the easiest thing because I had no time to think about it; it took me like five minutes to get ready,” said Ms. Garcia. “I got it at Ricky’s, which was absolutely packed today.”
Other party guests arrived eager to impress Ms. Sarofim with their creativity. Mustachioed photographer Douglas Friedman wore nothing but a dark green cylinder around his waist filled with packing peanuts and plastic veggies; he was dressed as a California roll. There were Sailor Moons and Speed Racers and a gentleman in a white jumpsuit covered in light bulbs that lit up every room as he entered it.
“This is some strange Japanese fetish thing that I actually got mailed to me from Japan,” said designer Chris Benz, showing off what was essentially a fuchsia body stocking. Mr. Benz wore a matching pink vest and shorts from his spring collection over the bodysuit, and platform boots purchased online.
We wondered whether Mr. Benz’s elaborate costume made it difficult for him to use the restroom.
“I basically would have to take the whole thing off,” he replied, showing off the zipper that ran along his back. “But you can actually breathe and see through it and it’s not hot at all.”
It wasn’t until it began to rain outdoors and the ceiling of the back room began to leak, prompting the hired help to lay down towels and buckets, that the Transom realized that the room was in fact a backyard converted into an indoor space with a tent not unlike those used at Fashion Week. “Isn’t it amazing? The way she turns the whole backyard into this big party space with smooth floors, you’d never know it was actually her garden!” said socialite Marjorie Gubelmann, who was dressed as a geisha.
The Transom wondered if other guests would have the budgets to match the hostess’ costume. “My parties have never been about how much money it costs or how much people spend on their costumes. It’s about how clever the costumes are,” Ms. Sarofim said.
Interior decorator Miles Redd, who is a five-year veteran of her parties (and decorated her father’s home), admitted that he kept things modest this year.
“Japanime, baby!” exclaimed Mr. Redd showing off his outfit of a colorful skirt, a leopard-printed fur overcoat and a bandana tied across his forehead, samurai-style. “To tell you the truth, I just invaded my sister’s closet and didn’t spend a penny. It’s all a product of my imagination. Hey, we’re in a recession, after all!”
Author and former Interview magazine editor Bob Colacello opted for jeans and a Murakami T-shirt, but insisted his casual garb had more to do with being on deadline at Vanity Fair than belt-tightening. And in any case, “People started with the costumes way before the Depression!” he said.